Category Archives: news

Youthsites :Histories of Creativity, Care, and Learning in the City

This co-authored book has just been published. It is open access and is available here.

The book is an original study of the youth organizations in London, Toronto, and Vancouver that offer creative and arts learning mainly to youth from diverse and socially marginalized backgrounds. It describes a sector that is often not recognized as such, organizations that don’t like being institutionalized, forms of education that exist outside the mainstream, and types of aesthetic expression that often go unrecognized.

Rooted in the history of community arts movements Youthsites are now part of cities around the world.Technological change, shifts in educational and policy discourses and a decline in funding of formal public schooling have all impacted the growth of youth arts organizations.

Yet, there are to date no systematic studies of the history, structure, and development of this “sector”. We wanted to fill this gap and the book is the first study to develop an internationally comparative, evidence-based, analysis of the organizations, and people who are helping young people to become creators, citizens, or just themselves in times of austerity, crisis, and change.

Digital Childhoods seminar – a conversation with Edtech

The second in a series of public seminars brought together experts in children’s education technology industry experts, and academics to discuss ‘Australian EdTech for Better Digital Childhoods’. The seminar is part of a series focused on digital childhoods, jointly organised by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and can be found here.

A Research Agenda to Examine the Political Economy of Digital Childhood

As part of my work for the ARC centre of excellence researching digital childhood I chair the editorial board for our working papers.

I have also co-authored a review investigating how the historical concept of a political economy of childhood might be usefully applied to children growing up in the digital age in order to establish an new research agenda. The review first defines what a political economy of digital childhood has meant historically in order to map working definitions. It then characterises research into the differing political economies of:

  • communications and the media
  • children and consumerism,
  • digital consumption,
  • and the family and education to see how such traditions might be either brought together or kept apart.

It argues that the research arena of digital childhood sits at a confluence of these academic research traditions bringing together studies of the political economy of the media and of childhood. The paper then reviews contemporary research into the political economy of digital childhood and concludes by offering areas for further research and enquiry structured around the key themes of: markets; institutions and platforms; and value.

Is there a ‘theory of learning’ for cultural studies and is it (still) relevant in an era of surveillance capitalism?

This article questions how cultural studies has been constructed as an educational project to examine if it might offer principles for learning about living in digital culture now. It first considers how the subject of Cultural Studies developed in relationship to education and then revisits empirical studies of cultural studies in schools. The essay engages with perspectives on evaluating the effects of these approaches and situates debates about learning with reference to theories of resistance and the field of reception studies. The final section of the article explores what cultural studies could and should be doing nowadays amidst considerable concern about the politics of digital culture. It challenges whether some of the underlying educational principles which animated its origins have any value in contemporary concerns with forms of surveillance capitalism.

Learning to Live with Datafication: Educational Case Studies and Initiatives from Across the World

My new book co-edited with Luci Pangrazio has just been published and can be found here.

The collection argues that as digital technologies play a key role across all aspects of our societies and in everyday life, teaching students about data is becoming increasingly important in schools and universities around the world. We have brought together international case studies of innovative responses to datafication, setting an agenda for how teachers, students and policy makers can best understand what kind of educational intervention works and why.

We think that Learning to Live with Datafication is unique in its focus on educational responses to datafication as well as critical analysis. Through case studies grounded in empirical research and practice, the book explores the dimensions of datafication from diverse perspectives. It examines how educators conceptualise the social implications of datafication and what is at stake for learners and citizens as educational institutions try to define what datafication will mean for the next generation.

Embodied technology use: Unaccompanied refugee youth and the migrant platformed body

This article co- authored with Annamaria Neag and published here argues that technology occupies a central role in the lives of unaccompanied refugee youth. Technology helps them when crossing countries, finding a shelter, and accessing education, or even in negotiating family relations online (e.g., Çelikaksoy & Wadensjö, 2017; Marlowe & Bruns, 2020; Morrice et al., 2020). Research with young refugees shows that social media and smart devices have become essential means to resolve many challenges (Kutscher & Kreß, 2018). The aim of our article is to go beyond a utilitarian view of digital technologies and social media in the lives of migrant youth and show how digital actions can be extensions of bodily communications in relation to, for instance, locating the self within new cities, food, music, and religion. We introduce the concept of the migrant platformed body as a site of struggle for unity that brings past and present into continuous discussion in and through the uses of social media technologies.

The death of the educative subject? The limits of criticality under datafication

This article, written with Luci Pangrazio, argues that amidst ongoing technological and social change, there are implications for critical education that result from a data-driven model of digital governance. We argue that traditional notions of critique which rely upon the deconstruction and analysis of texts are increasingly redundant in the age of datafication, where the production of information is automated and hidden. We then explain the concept of the ‘educative subject’ within the liberal education tradition, with specific focus on the role of critique and reflexivity in their becoming.We explore how the logics and practices of datafication and automation pose unprecedented challenges to the educative subject, examining three features in particular: the creation of data subjects; the rise of correlationalism; and the move from representation to operationalisation. We conclude by outlining a research agenda to address the existential challenges posed by data education.

The article can be found here.

Tracing the enduring effects of community arts programs (TEECAPs)

I am just beginning a new three year project funded by the Wallace Foundation in the US.

The key aim of this study is to explore the long-term effects of participating in out-of-school (OST) arts education programs serving young people from marginalized communities. The project will delve into the life experiences of people who have participated in OST arts programs to determine how they perceive their participation affected their lives over the long-term. We will examine the potential shaping force of OST programs on identity formation and its influences on lifecourse trajectories that might derive from participation in non-formal arts education. By doing so, we will also shed light on the capacity of creative communities of practice and OST programs, in particular, to impact the life experiences of marginalized youth.

The rationale for the project is that although Education policy set by federal, state, and local agencies throughout the U.S. Australia and the UK promotes the value and need for creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, yet opportunities for rich learning experiences that promote agency and a sense of belonging in relation to normative institutions are subject to racial and class divisions. Research that examines the ways in which a broad range of life-shaping capacities develop outside formal school settings can provide insight into the influence OST programs have, increasing recognition of their value and the possibilities for enhancing, expanding, and committing funding to OST arts education. 

The initiative will theorize and capture potential long-term outcomes of OST arts programs and then use the findings and implications to influence ongoing and future design, implementation, and evaluation of OST arts programs. This approach will challenge deficit or remedial discourses by reevaluating the educational status of the developmental processes and supportive personal relationships that many staff in this sector value as consequential outcomes, but which are rarely documented as such. The focus on capturing perceived impact over the long-term will be an ambitious and original contribution to the sector.

This project will first, derive narrative accounts of long-term impact from people who attended after-school arts -based programs at least 10 years ago. These accounts will be analyzed thematically and conceptually, and the findings reviewed and validated by three categories of stakeholders: the participants in the study themselves, program-based practitioners, and other stakeholders, including our technical advisory group. In the second phase, findings from these accounts and their subsequent validation will then be used for practical application. It is expected that program leaders, policy makers, researchers and funders will be able to use these findings in the support, design, implementation, improvement, and extension of programs to further test and refine strategies for long-term impacts of considerable social import. A potential third phase (not currently funded) could expand these strategies at scale through research-practice partnerships based on our findings.

I will be working with colleagues from the University of California, Irvine, the University of Kentucky and Parsons School of design, new school New York. This project builds on previous publications examining out-of-school learning and the project YouthSites, (a history of the political economy of after-school learning organisations in London, Vancouver and Toronto).

I will write more here project unfolds


I was recently interviewed ( in English) for the Spanish-language blog/YouTube channel about some of the long-term implications of the pandemic for how we might think about teaching and learning, schools and education systems. The YouTube interview can be found here.

Platform Pedagogies –Toward a Research Agenda

In a short “call to action” Luci Pangrazio and I argue that Platforms have become integral to young people’s social and educational lives despite bringing new risks. We explore how a theory of pedagogy can shed new and useful light on interactions on platforms focusing on digital activity in terms of a teaching and learning relationship.

We propose the concept of “platform pedagogies” to protect algorithmic rights and encourage investigation in:

  • how the structure of digital platforms “teach” or train forms of engagement and participation;
  • the literacies individuals draw on as they learn to use digital platforms;
  • what young users know about the ways digital platforms datafy them;
  • how digital platforms reconfigure the relations between the school and home and the nature of teachers’ work;
  • the theory of learning that underpins “educational” platforms.

The piece can be found here.